A new report says the replacement of Sidney’s Beacon Wharf will be complicated and costly, with other infrastructure costs looming on the horizon.
This prediction appears in a staff report Sidney council meeting as committee of the whole minus Coun. Chad Rintoul received earlier this week before asking staff to establish a select committee tasked with answering various questions around the wharf. It has stood at the end of Beacon Avenue for more than 50 years as an iconic part of the community, but is also approaching the end of its design life.
This potential list of questions facing the eventual committee members include the very question of whether Sidney should even replace the wharf in the face of rising sea levels and more intense storms. The wharf itself has undergone several repairs since Sidney had assumed control of it from the federal government in 2006, with more repairs pending this year to extend its lifetime.
A report by SNC-Lavalin — the company hired by Sidney to study the feasibility of rebuilding the wharf following completion of the municipality’s Downtown Waterfront Vision in 2018 — pegs the remaining design life of the current wharf at less than 10 years.
That same report also presents council with seven replacement options (with one option featuring a sub-option) that ranged in costs from $6.3 million to $20.8 million, with the important proviso that the company ultimately short-listed four options ranging in costs from $6.3 million to $14.2 million.
Sidney had requested that the wharf structure have a design life of 50 years and be open to the public among other criteria. They require that the wharf reach up to Sidney’s existing flood construction level of 7.1 metres, 1.6 metres above the existing wharf height.
Jenn Clary, Sidney’s director of engineering, said these figures do not include the cost of any future buildings or amenities on the wharf. The public heard later from her that these figures also do not include any related costs for infrastructure around the wharf impacted by the replacement.
They include, among others, the roundabout at the end of Beacon Avenue, as well as Beacon Avenue Park and the walkway that runs along the waterfront. The central factor is the future height of the wharf, if replacement goes ahead.
“New infrastructure with a design life of 50 years will need to be higher than the existing waterfront,” the report reads. “How much higher will depend on the type of wharf and intended use.”
Three of the four shortlisted wharf replacement options would be 3.5 metres higher than the current wharf, with the fourth 2.5 metres than the current option, thereby impacting surrounding infrastructure. In other words, if Sidney were to go ahead with replacing the wharf, the municipality would have to take a much broader view.
Mayor Cliff-McNeil-Smith, who will chair the select committee following final approval by council, referenced this aspect in his comments.
“This is just one aspect of the total waterfront in Sidney,” he said.
Broadly speaking, SNC-Lavalin’s shortlisted options fall into broad categories: a suspended deck standing on piles and a deck on the top of reclaimed fill protected by rock. According to the report, the suspended deck option would be cheaper and less harmful on the environment during construction than the “rubble deck” option, but it is not as straightforward as it might appear.
Sidney’s Downtown Waterfront Vision lists several “functional requirements” for the future wharf. They include, among others, moorage for vessels and space for buildings. “The wharf shall accommodate a leased lot(s) on top of the deck for commercial buildings,” it reads.
But those requirements might not be achievable depending on the eventual option chosen. For example, a suspended deck might not be as suitable for buildings, the report reads.
Once in place, the select standing committee would exist until Dec. 31, 2020.
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